Guest post by Andre Roux, Director of 25 Farms, My CSA go to and Chef of Hunger, Faith & Food Conference…

Butter Lettuce

Hot off the heels of the Hunger Faith and Food Conference. 

Well, the conference was a success! In partnering with about a dozen non-profit organizations around Denver, we were able to make a meal for about 200 people. The only problem we ran into was that the biggest storm in a decade hit Denver and the city basically shut down. That put a damper on things. We still had about 100 people in attendance, but the meal moved forward nonetheless.

Above, are two pictures from the event taken by someone with a cellphone (weather prevented the professional photographed from showing up). The pictures and the plating aren’t great, but I’m confident we had the busiest lunch in Denver that day, so I won’t complain.   Both meals are made from rice and beans and the same base ingredients, but are radically different from one another. The basic meal is a SNAP benefit meal of rice and beans with commonly available condiments (a Have-Not meal). The other meal (a Have’s Meal) is a rice flour ravioli, stuffed with fermented black beans, creamy risotto cooked in a vegetable stock, smoked shiitake mushrooms, served with a sundried tomato mousse, and tomato-infused pepper oils. Again, the ingredients were almost identical for each meal, but we wanted to show-taste-touch-smell-swallow, the difference that access to resources makes in the lives of those who live in poverty and those who do not. 

Food is a very powerful communicator. How we eat can say more about how we live than what jobs we have, cars we drive, and friends we keep. For some of us, our eating habits can compete with our closest family and friends in describing who we are; the grab-and-go foods, the midnight-fridge-raids, family dinner nights, comfort food, and the junk food dancing in our mouths like nobody is watching! All of these are just a few ways food betrays our deepest intimacies and relationships with the outside world. Tell me HOW a person eats for 25 days, and I’ll show you everything you would want to know about that person. Our identities are right there in front of our noses: income levels, world location, education, job type, stress-level, free-time, family-time, food allergies, I can go on for a while and I bet you could too. There was a study a while back that demonstrated a correlation between people who parked by reversing into the parking space and people who were successful in life. Reverse-parkers demonstrate a higher than average ability to delay gratification and therefore are on average more successful in life.  Just imagine what your food says about your ability to delay gratification and be successful.  In a country struggling with an obesity epidemic, food is the biggest struggle we face with self-control while at the same time also the most masked systemic exploitation of eaters by corporations providing low-cost unhealthy food to the public and then claiming it’s just the public’s responsibility and lack of self-control that leads to obesity. These two pictures encapsulate food for me and express the tensions of it. While I’m not aiming for an art project here (some James Franco thing), I feel this tension in a food system that is both broken and beautiful, and cannot genuinely do one without exposing the other. It is the Ugh and Mhmm of Food. Jekyll and Hyde on a plate. 

In closing, I ask: What does the food of 25 Farms say about our daily lives? Our value of living wages? Of healthy eating? Of convenience? Of relationships? 


Butter Lettuce
Swiss Chard
Green Star Lettuce

From The GrowHaus:
Butter Lettuce
Greenstar Lettuce

From Colorado Aquaponics:
Rainbow Chard
Romaine Lettuce


Here’s what every salad needs:

Vegetables [Greens/Raw/Grilled/Roasted/Pickled]
+ Dressing [Vinaigrette/Creamy]
+ Crunchies [Seeds/Nuts/Croutons/Granola]
+ Optional Protein [Meat/Cheese/More Cheese]
+ Optional Extras [Herbs/Fruit/Grains/Etc.]
= Salad!

Is Summer Squash Slaw a salad? You bet it is. Photo: Christina Holmes

The Veg
Look, it’s a salad. You’re going to need to put some veggies in there. 

Choose at least one, or as many as you want:
Greens: Raw greens are what most people think when they hear the word “salad.” And with good reason: Most greens are better eaten fresh. Choose tender lettuce leaves and greens, like spinach, Bibb or Little Gem, for more delicate salads; spicy or bitter greens, like arugula, dandelion greens, or chicory, for bossy vinaigrettes; or sturdy greens, like thinly sliced kale, for marinated and massaged salads.

Raw: Lettuce and greens aren’t the only ones who can go raw. Try using a vegetable peeler to make fibrous veggies more palatable (looking at you, asparagus). For crunchy vegetables, like kohlrabi, just chop them into bite-size pieces and throw them in. For usually-cooked vegetables, like beetsand squash, either slice them very thinly or grate them to make them easier to digest. 

Grilled: Grilling vegetables like alliums, squash, eggplant, and more, adds smokiness and, depending on how aggressive you get, a nice char. If you can dream it, you can grill it (yep, even greens)—so provided your Weber is at the ready, feel free to toss those veggies on the barbie.

Roasted: And, as the saying goes: If you can grill it, you can roast it. At least, it’s a saying now. Go easy on the oil, so your vegetables aren’t weighted down with grease.

Pickled: Pickled vegetables add a funky, fermented note, and bump up the flavor in a big way. Combine them with raw vegetables or greens for a one-two punch; they’re a bit too intense to make up an entire salad.

Grilled veg, a bracing vinaigrette, crunchy nuts, and fresh herbs? Yep, it’s a salad. Photo: Ryan Liebe

The Dressing
Without a dressing, your salad is just a sad bowl of vegetables. 

Choose one
Vinaigrette: A classic vinaigrette is made with fat and acid; traditionally, olive oil and either vinegar or lemon juice. But these days, you can get crazy with your vinaigrettes. Feel free to add warm bacon fat (it will solidify at room temperature), or experiment with a variety of vinegars and citrus juices.

Thick and Creamy: Hearty salads with big flavors can stand up to creamy, rich dressings like ranch or buttermilk. Not sure what dressing your salad can handle? This guide breaks it down.

Spicy seed brittle takes this collard greens salad to the next level. Photo: Nicole Franzen

The Crunchies
Having something to really sink your teeth into makes any salad feel more satisfying.

Choose at lease one, or as many as you want:
Seeds: Some of our favorite options: Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds (go easy on ’em; too many can taste fishy), sunflower seeds, and hemp seeds.

Nuts: Toast them first to bring out their flavor, and chop them for easier bites.

Croutons: We like homemade. Use any old loaf you have on hand. Or, pita bread!

Savory Granola: We always keep a batch of this close-by. Cayenne and fennel makes it savory.

Chicken! Bulgur! Pistachios! This salad has a little bit of everything—and not too much of anything. Photo: Peden + Munk

The Optionals
You could certainly stop there. But why not make it a meal?

Choose as many as you want.
Fresh herbs: Add big handfuls of tender and soft herbs, like mint, parsley, cilantro, and basil. These work better with lighter vinaigrettes than thick dressings.

Fruit: Think beyond the berry. If it’s ripe and ready, why not? Choose fruits that are complementary in flavor to the rest of your ingredients. Yes, avocado counts. Equally tasty: dried fruit, like raisins, dried cranberries, or dehydrated apple. 

Protein: Cold leftover roasted chicken, hot and crispy ground lambpoached eggs, basically any cheese ever… a little protein goes a long way when it comes to rounding out a salad. But let the vegetables be the star; there’s a time and a place for an ax-handle steak, and it’s not on your kale.

Grains & Carbs: The easiest way to bulk up a salad is with a small addition of cooked grains, like quinoa, bulgur, couscousbarleyfarrowheat berries…you get the picture. Be mindful that the grains will soak up more dressing than the veg, so adjust accordingly.
Originally written by Rochelle Billow, published at Bon Appetit:

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Arriving home from three months of adventuring around Asia, this Christmas I’m feeling more blessed than ever. In a warm, happy, spacious house our family – just Mikie, Katie, Mom, Dad, Luie and I – will share our love and exchange gifts, and enjoy the most scrumptious breakfast egg casserole as tradition! My stomach is already gurgling thinking about the gooey goodness.

Mikie bug me xmas 2012 (2)

Every year, I’m eternally grateful to have a family that not only loves and supports one another no matter where we are, but genuinely enjoys spending time with one another when we are together.

I’m eager to see my God Parents, Aunt Robin and Uncle Chip, this afternoon as they bring a sense of reality and dose of humor to the occasion. In addition, my Aunt Robin closely competes with my mother for best chef in the kitchen and her appetizers are to die for! My Mother, Chef Cathy’s Holiday Feast this evening, will be no shorter than five courses, as it has been for nearly a decade. We will say grace and descend upon the food and drink and fill ourselves full of expensive wine and locally grown, home cooked food until we are silly.Uncle Chip and Aunt Robin

The fact that we can eat like this does not go without recognizing how many hungry, lonely people there may be across the globe tonight and our hearts are with you. In honor of this, we support local endeavors in Milwaukee to end hunger and educate children on growing healthy food and practicing a nutritious diet.  Read more about The Farm at the Hunger Task Force here!

Nana, at 93, recovering from multiple strokes in 2014, may not exactly be herself. However, this classy lady’s charm will surely sear through her senility and her quips on politics or past adventures of her own global trotting will slip out from time to time. I will hold these priceless moments in my heart so tight, understanding that there may be a time when these mumbles are only memories. I love my Nana dearly and her wit and resilience throughout her life is an inspiration to all who know her. Both my grandmothers have made a tremendous impact in shaping who I am as a young women.

nana present

This Christmas, I reflect upon the friends and students I’ve met all over the world. Some will be celebrating “the reason for the season” or simple family traditions, or not celebrating at all; May your day be merry and bright no matter what Christmas means to you.

My mind drifts to a favorite student and local village girl from Chiang Rai, Nah-ah, who in several English lessons, shared a special passion for learning about the holidays. Nah-ah let me know her family celebrates Christmas. Tonight they will go to church and sing which brings her great joy. I hear your sweet voice, sweet girl, from the opposite side of the planet and I hope the carols we practiced come in handy today!

May the volunteers I met have a purposeful celebration and may your adventures continue at home or wherever you are! Every individual I’ve met “on the road”  has helped to shape me into my healthiest, simplest, most grateful self and that is the best gift anyone could ask for- Thank you!

MerrEEE Christmas to All!

Lots of Love,

Hallie (LouLou) Jaeger

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